Five Muslims arrested for planning terror attack in France. And shame on Stratfor for not mentioning that those arrested were Islamic, as if that doesn’t matter at all.
Five terror suspects arrested in Paris this week are suspected of conspiring to launch an attack in France and one of them was prepared to die, Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux said on Wednesday. Skip related content
France is on heightened alert for a terror attack after al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden targeted the country for the first time in a recent speech and endorsed the capture of five French nationals by the group’s North African wing.
Hortefeux said the terror threat remained “real” and “elevated” following the arrest on Monday and Tuesday of five suspects, all of whom were French including one woman, at Charles de Gaulle airport and in the greater Paris region.
“What we can say is that, over the last few days with these arrests … there was what we call a conspiracy (to) prepare a terror attack,” he told reporters at a Paris train station.
“Some of them were ready to die in their fanatical act,” he said, later clarifying only one appeared willing to die.
The Eiffel Tower and surrounding area was evacuated in late September and again shortly after that.
Security officials have tightened their surveillance of potential targets such as airports and train stations since September, when police received a tip-off that a female suicide bomber was preparing to attack the Paris metro system.
While the tip-off did not result in an arrest, Hortefeux has kept up a steady drumbeat of warnings about a possible attack, recently citing information from Saudi Arabia that al Qaeda was plotting to strike in France.
“It’s a real and permanent threat,” said Alain Chouet former chief of the DGSE, France’s foreign intelligence service. “When we have 5 million Muslims in the country … if we have 1 in 10,000 that decides to turn to violence that makes for a healthy reservoir.”
SENSE OF ALARM
Adding to the sense of alarm was the interception last week of two parcel bombs bound for the United States in a foiled plot claimed by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, he said. France plans to maintain its ban on cargo flights from Yemen.
France is particularly concerned that some 25 French radical Islamists who have travelled to Afghanistan and Pakistan to receive training as militants will return to plot an attack, according to sources close to French police.
Of the five people arrested, one had passed through Afghanistan and often surfed jihadist web sites, Hortefeux said, while others were planning to go to Pakistan.
One was also implicated in a plot to assassinate the rector of the Grand Mosque of Paris, Dalil Boubakeur, Hortefeux said, drawing a parallel with a spate of bombings in Paris in 1995 which began by the murder of a Muslim cleric.
Boubakeur has been under police protection since mid-September.
(Additional reporting and editing by John Irish)